Mar 30, 2020
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Coronavirus Update Transcript March 30
Muriel Bowser: (00:00)
We need you to call a doctor or healthcare provider and we need you to stay home. Residents should not be trying to decide for themselves whether they need to get tested. Seek medical attention by calling your provider. Call your healthcare provider and seek advice from them.
Muriel Bowser: (00:20)
Furthermore, if a medical professional advises you to go to the doctor or to a testing site, please listen. Anyone with symptoms needs to call a healthcare provider, and if you are advised, you should seek treatment regardless of your immigration status. Your care and wellbeing is a top priority. And as always, if you call us for help, our first responders will not be asking you about your immigration status.
Muriel Bowser: (00:46)
Now, to talk more specifically about how we’re working to keep our Latino and immigrant community safe, I want to bring up director Jackie Reyes, who is the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs
Jackie Reyes: (01:04)
Good morning and thank you Mayor Bowser. I’m Jackie Reyes, the Director of the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs. [Spanish foreign language 00:01:17] If you have any symptoms, please watch for the fever, cough, and shortness of breath. [Spanish foreign language 00:01:31]. If you have the symptoms, please call your doctors regardless of your immigration status. If you don’t have a doctor, you can call this number, (844) 726-2797. [Spanish foreign language 00:01:49]. If you feel sick, just like the Mayor say, we need you to stay home, and the best way to protect yourself and your families and our community is for everyone to stay home. [Spanish foreign language 00:02:40] Muchas gracias, thank you.
Chris Rodrigues: (02:59)
Good morning everyone. Thank you, Mayor Bowser. My name is Chris Rodriguez and I’m the Director of the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. I’d like to begin by thanking Mayor Bowser for her continued leadership throughout the district’s response to COVID-19, and to all of our district agencies and federal partners for their continued support.
Chris Rodrigues: (03:20)
I’d like to provide two brief updates this morning. The first is that in response to the COVID-19 health emergency, district operations have been adjusted until April 27th. And most services and programs have been impacted by this operational adjustment, including parking enforcement. With an increased number of residents working from home, residential street sweeping and ticket enforcement associated with it has been suspended. Rush hour parking restrictions are also suspended, therefore the Department of Public Works or DPW will not ticket during rush hour between 7:00 and 9:00 AM, and between 4:00 and 6:00 PM. Ticketing for expired district license plates and inspection stickers is also suspended.
Chris Rodrigues: (04:11)
The District Department of Transportation, DDOT, will offer temporary pickup drop off zones to allow residents and commercial drivers easy access to restaurants and eateries that are still offering delivery or carry-out service during the Mayor’s declared public health emergency.
Chris Rodrigues: (04:29)
DDOT, in this respect, has proactively installed signage at 20 locations across the district designating temporary restaurant pickup, drop-off zones, and those zones are identified by emergency no parking signs posted and registered with DPW. Parking enforcement is in effect for pickup/drop-off zones. As it is related to parking enforcement, vehicle booting and towing is also suspended.
Chris Rodrigues: (04:58)
The second update I want to provide is on the status of the district’s Major Disaster Declaration. At the Mayor’s direction, the District of Columbia has taken all immediate actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and the District’s Emergency Response Services have been coordinated throughout the declaration of a local state of emergency and a public health emergency, as well as the activation of the District’s Emergency Operation Center nearly a month ago.
Chris Rodrigues: (05:28)
In the last several weeks, COVID-19 has caused a tremendous strain on the district public health and emergency response infrastructure and severely impacted residents and businesses. As a result, this past Friday, as it became clear to us that further federal assistance would be needed to slow and contain the spread of this infectious disease, the Mayor submitted a request to the White House through the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA to declare a major disaster for the District of Columbia.
Chris Rodrigues: (05:58)
I’m here to report that yesterday afternoon we received confirmation that our request was approved, and that FEMA has declared a major disaster for the District of Columbia as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.
Chris Rodrigues: (06:12)
What does this mean? Well, this declaration authorizes the federal government to provide support to us in the COVID-19 response, specifically on immediate threats to public health and safety, medical care and sheltering, the movement of supplies and logistics, and the operations of our Emergency Operation Center or our EOC. I would like to thank the FEMA Regional Administrator for our area, Marianne Tierney for her support of the District of Columbia’s requests for a major disaster as well as the assistance of our Federal Coordinating Officer, Mr. Don Kelton from FEMA, who was fully integrated into our Emergency Operation Center here at the DC Department of Health.
Chris Rodrigues: (06:54)
The Major Disaster Declaration for the district is a critical part of our continuing response and recovery efforts from COVID-19. And as Mayor Bowser has stated previously, we are in this together and we will get through this together. Thank you, Madam Mayor.
Muriel Bowser: (07:07)
I’m just going to give a report out on the number of first responders who have been impacted by COVID-19. So for the DC Fire and EMS, as of 3/29, there had been 14 members who’ve been tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 177 personnel in quarantine due to COVID-19. For Fire and EMS as well as the other agencies that I mentioned, keep in mind some of these quarantines are the result of interactions at work. Some of the quarantined individuals are as result of interactions outside of work.
For the Metropolitan Police Department, they’ve had five individuals who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, and they had 161 personnel who are currently out due to COVID-19.
For the DC Department of Corrections, the staff, there is one individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 and there are 71 staff members who are quarantined as a result of COVID-19.
And then for the Department of Corrections, the residents in their custody, they’ve had four individuals positive for COVID-19 and they have 83 individuals who currently are in quarantine. Those quarantine numbers do fluctuate. People come back from quarantine and people are out of the quarantine based on the direction of the Health Department. Thank you.
Muriel Bowser: (08:42)
Mayor, I have some questions about the jail. We talked by phone with an inmate there who complained that apparently he’s not in this unit where people are quarantined. But one, that there’s recycled air, and honestly I don’t know, but that’s what he said and that’s what a correctional officer said. They have recycled air. He’s concerned about that. And that the only way they have to clean their units is the soap they bathe with. They won’t give them bleach or anything like that. The correctional officers also complained that the administrative area is cleaned professionally daily, but no other area. Any comment about these people that are concerned about?
Muriel Bowser: (09:24)
Well, absolutely Sam. We are following all of our CDC guidance and cleaning protocols, and making sure that our residents who are being served there during their time of incarceration are getting all due care according to those guidelines. I also want to advise that all of the people who are in quarantine, who are residents at the jail, who are serving time at the jail, they are being served by medical staff. We have a medical unit as you know, a clinic operated by Unity Healthcare, and they are servicing with food and other needs in the quarantined area.
Also, some of the union has said basically that they have instructed their members just to basically stay in place, get in the bubble and don’t go out, don’t serve meals because they’re concerned about their health.
Muriel Bowser: (10:21)
Well, all of the guards there work for the Warden and the Director of the DLC and those are the instructions they should follow. Yes.
Can you give us some more information on the drive-thru and walk-up site at UMC? What’s the scope of it, the days, the hours, how many personnel will be there?
Muriel Bowser: (10:37)
We expect, Darron to be able to give you all that information later in the week. And they’re doing some kind of quality assurance right now to make sure that we’ll be ready. But that site will be for DC residents who had been referred by a doctor for testing? Yes.
Speaker 7: (10:56)
On the testing site for corrections officers and first responders, how is that working? Is this based on people that may have been exposed to the COVID-19 because of people that have already tested positive? Or is this for any first responder who wants to get tested?
Muriel Bowser: (11:17)
No, it’s for first responders who have been referred by a provider. Yes.
Speaker 8: (11:25)
For the DC jail, how is social distancing being encouraged or enforcing?
Muriel Bowser: (11:30)
We’ll we’ll come back to jail questions following the other questions? Yes.
Speaker 9: (11:35)
So who’s conducting the test? Is it DOH who’s doing the testing on first responders? And where are you getting those tests?
Muriel Bowser: (11:41)
They’re part of the district supply. And they’re either DOH personnel or FEMS personnel. Yes.
Speaker 7: (11:50)
Governor Hogan yesterday said that he expects a New York type wave to hit here in the next two weeks. Do you agree with that as far as here in the District of Columbia and are your doctors from DOH telling you the same thing?
Muriel Bowser: (12:04)
We’re certainly, every day modeling, just like you heard from the White House yesterday, that there are all kinds of models that have been produced. We’re inputting our data in those models as well. And I’ll say this, that we haven’t seen the peak of the spread of the infection in the District. We have not seen the peak of hospitalizations. And sadly, likely we have not seen the peak of people who will succumb to disease.
Speaker 7: (12:34)
I’d like a follow-up. Can you tell us anything about the 39 year old male who passed away?
Muriel Bowser: (12:39)
I can only tell you so far what we’ve reported. Just about age and sex is what we’re reporting right now. Yes.
Speaker 8: (12:51)
I’m so sorry for the loss of your staff member. Are you able to provide any updates about your team, whether other members are quarantined?
Muriel Bowser: (12:59)
Yes. We have five members of the Executive Office of the Mayor who are self-quarantined because of a close contact with George.
Muriel Bowser: (13:13)
On the Federal Declaration of Disaster, we heard from the director about what that will avail you. Are there any dollars associated with that? Can you tell us how much money the district might get? And might this make up for what you saw as a short change in the-
Muriel Bowser: (13:30)
No, those are different issues, Mark. The major disaster declaration increases the amount of money, the share that we can request in reimbursement for all of the monies that we put out to respond to this disaster. And I’ll have Chris talk a little bit more about that.
Muriel Bowser: (13:49)
We continue to work with our partners at the White House as well as in the Congress to make sure that the next relief bill corrects the District being treated as a territory. But we also want to express our appreciation to FEMA and the folks in the White House who are leading this response, who turned our major declaration requests around in a couple of days. Yes.
Just kind of curious about the five members quarantined. When are they going to quarantine? Do they included in department heads? Any members of DOH? And is Ronald Ross one of them?
Muriel Bowser: (14:31)
I’m not going to talk in specifics about individuals. They do not include department heads. I do not believe. Yes.
Speaker 7: (14:40)
Mayor, can I ask you about crime numbers? Are you seeing a large reduction of arrests in the city? And secondly, are you seeing an increase in domestic violence calls?
Muriel Bowser: (14:52)
I got a briefing this morning about domestic violence calls, and we haven’t seen an increase. We think they’re from the previous 30 days, and from this time last year they’re about the same. Having said that, we don’t want anybody being bullied or violently treated in their home. So we want everybody to continue to avail themselves of resources so that we can get people some help.
Muriel Bowser: (15:17)
We’ve also put out a lot of information about mental health and people staying active, in reaching out and asking us if they need help.
Muriel Bowser: (15:29)
I will tell you what stubborn number that we haven’t seen any change in, and that we may have seen some change. I shouldn’t say any change, but we’re still seeing gunfire in our communities. And so we want to remind people to continue to let us know about illegal guns in our community so that we can get to these guns before they’re used in a violent act in Washington DC.
Speaker 7: (15:52)
What about arrest? Are you seeing them downturn there?
Muriel Bowser: (15:55)
Let me ask Kevin to address the arrests.
As you know, there’s a concerted effort to try to reduce the number of individuals who are entering the justice system right now, and that includes a few different initiatives. One is the use of citations much more robustly, in lieu of arrests, than previously was done. The other is the US Attorney’s Office cooperating with us to make new prosecution decisions much earlier in the process before they really enter the Department of Correction’s custody.
And more than anything else, those two factors has led to a pretty dramatic decline in the number of people who enter the central cellblock, some days by as much as 75%. I attribute, and the Chief and I look closely at the numbers. When you see fewer arrests, I attribute it often to not police not doing their job, I attribute it to a conscientious effort to try to keep residents safe and to make use of the DOC for violent crimes, domestic violence and things we absolutely have to use it for.
So Governor Hogan just issued a stay-at-home directive. I’m curious, Mayor, if you, Governor Hogan and Governor Northam had been in touch about coordinating one.
Muriel Bowser: (17:13)
I’m sorry. I didn’t hear your question.
Governor Hogan issued a stay-at-home directive. So in your conversations with Governor Hogan and Governor Northam, have you been in touch with them about coordinating one here in the District?
Muriel Bowser: (17:25)
Yeah. I think I have a call scheduled with them later today. Yes.
Speaker 8: (17:29)
Will you provide updates on the drive-through testing sites at GW and Sibley?
Muriel Bowser: (17:35)
I think that GW will go online later this week as well. And I’m not sure, I can’t recall right now what Sibley’s plan is.
Mayor Bowser, do you plan on releasing any geo-data as far as the positive testing and things like that? A lot of jurisdictions, states do it by county. Even New York City seems to be doing it by borough. You have not even released by quadrant, much less by ward. Is there any way we could get that data? And are you seeing any clusters or anything from that data?
Muriel Bowser: (18:08)
I think that you heard from our DOH Director already that she has reviewed the data and has not seen any clusters.
But no plans to release that?
Muriel Bowser: (18:18)
And as the data develops, it’s evolving all the time what we’re able to report. But keep in mind that some counties and boroughs are many more people than our whole city. So as the collection of data evolves, there may be more that’s releasable. Yes.
Any more meetings with the Virginia and Maryland Governors?
Muriel Bowser: (18:46)
I just mentioned that we have a plan called for later.
Okay. Is it possible you might take the action the Governor Hogan has announced today?
Muriel Bowser: (18:56)
I don’t know. I don’t really know what you’re talking about, but I can- Let me finish. I can tell you that we have issued orders for people to stay at home and that’s what we mean. Yes. All right. A couple more questions. Yes.
Earlier you mentioned that you know we have where they seem to pick up hospitalizations and sort of the impact of this virus. And the White House projected about a 100,00 to 200,000 deaths if they do things right. At the risk of sounding grim, what’s the projection of DC in terms of infections, in terms of possible deaths?
Muriel Bowser: (19:27)
I can tell you that we’re planning for our surge of hospitalizations and that’s what we can discuss right now.
When are you thinking the surge might hit?
Muriel Bowser: (19:41)
The models vary Sam, but we want to have our surge capacity online by the first week in May. Yes.
And then back to the site for the personnel. Where is that site going to be for the first responders and what are the hours of that site?
Muriel Bowser: (19:57)
They’ll be directed to the site when they are referred by their doctors. Yes.
Do we have any COVID-19 cases out of St. Elizabeth’s?
Muriel Bowser: (20:09)
I believe we have … I’ll have to get you the number. I’m sorry. I believe we have at least one. Okay. Thank you everybody.